Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
The wind was blowing strongly from the west last night, enough to occasionally rock the trailer as I slept at Pegleg in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. A little rocking is nice when you’re snug and secure in a tight little aluminum cocoon, but unfortunately I discovered that the angle of the wind caused a heretofore unknown flap in the stove vent to make a random tinny banging noise.
The noise was enough to wake me from a sound sleep, and after several interruptions to interesting dreams I finally got out of bed to see what could be done about it. Thus I can report that it was still fairly warm at 1 a.m. last night in Borrego Springs, even when standing out in the breeze in pajamas. (In fact, I didn’t need heat all night.)
A wad of paper towel stuffed in the vent blocked the wind enough to stop the flap from banging. I think I will devise a better block, made of foam, for future trips. Eleanor and Emma really owe me for debugging this sort of thing before they go camping in the trailer. Add this to the spontaneously shattering window glass phenomenon that I discovered in the early morning last December, and you can see that the job of Quality Assurance Inspector is not easy.
In the morning Bert tapped on the door and invited me out to breakfast at one of the cafes in downtown Borrego Springs. Since he was buying, I couldn’t say no … or to be more accurate, I simply wouldn’t say no. Anyone who cares to buy me a tall stack of blueberry pancakes will find “No” has suddenly disappeared from my vocabulary.
Of course we got to talking, and by the time I was back at the trailer I was already late to get to the ACE Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. All of the vintage trailer owners were told that it was very important we arrive in the specific 30-minute parking windows that had been assigned to us, and of course none of us did. I was 25 minutes late, while others were either hours early or late. But we all got parked well enough, in an pedestrian alleyway that divides sections of this former motel, and even before we were disconnected and set up, there was a steady stream of appreciative onlookers checking out the trailers.
The Caravel is plugged in just twenty paces from the door of my ground-floor hotel room, so in effect I have sleeping and housekeeping space for about eight people (four in the Caravel, four in the double beds of the room). The refrigerator and cupboard of the trailer are fully stocked with food, so I’ve been going back and forth between hotel and Caravel for meals, which I prepare in the trailer and consume in the hotel room. I didn’t even have to bring much into the room with me, since my entire wardrobe and anything else I might need is already in the trailer.
The hotel is quite interesting. Formerly a Westward Ho motel, then a Howard Johnson’s, it was recently done over to the tune (so I’m told) of $35 million. It shows. The rooms are bohemian/modernist/funky, while the grounds and building are cleverly landscaped and very inviting. Tonight in “The Commune” (a gathering place at the hotel) we will be treated to a slide show by “classic and kitsch pop-culture humorist” Charles Phoenix, which I’m told is a must-see.
Parked nearby me is Kristiana Spaulding, who many of you may know for her wonderful silver Airstream-themed jewelry. She advertises her work in Airstream Life, which is a good enough reason for me to love her, but in addition she and her husband Greg are great people who I’ve enjoyed meeting for the first time today. Kristiana is showing her 1962 Bambi, one of many Airstreams she owns. I thought I was a big road-tripper, but apparently from the stories I’m hearing today, I’m not even in Kristiana’s league. She’s based in Lotus CA but makes regular trips to New York.
Officially tours start on Saturday. Participants pay $10 per person to get to view the interiors of the trailers and talk to the owners. There will be tours at 10, 12, and 2. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Eleanor and I have dressed up the Caravel for the event, and yes, I will get some pictures of that for you. But in advance of the tours there have been many people coming by to admire. They try to peek in the windows, and they are taking a lot of pictures. You’d think they’d never seen a vintage Airstream before. I guess I forget how rare — to the general public — they seem to be. And it’s also easy to forget how dramatically people are transfixed by the sight of one of the old aluminum shells. Seeing their reaction to the interior tomorrow should be great fun.